“Are you waiting for Tessa or something?” I ask, unsure how to start a conversation with her, or if I should.

Things feel distant between us since Dakota yelled at her for being around me.

Nora nods. “Yep. She’s having a rough night, too, a twenty-top just walked in and they put them in her section even though she’s still new.” She rolls her eyes. “I got bitched out for bitching out the hostess.”

“Seems fair?” I shrug, smiling so she knows I’m joking.

She smiles. “Touché.”

I watch as she opens a drawer and pulls out the cutting board. She doesn’t do anything with it, she just leaves it sitting next to the microwave while she empties the last bag.

I lean awkwardly against the counter and think of an exit plan before I become a burden.

“Oh my God,” Nora says, touching her forehead with the tips of her fingers. “I’m sorry. Are you busy or having company? I just barged in here and started unloading groceries and didn’t think to ask if I’m in the way.”

She’s not in the way, now.

I’m so, so, so glad she didn’t come ten minutes earlier.

“No, not at all. I’m just going to study and go to bed. You’ll have the kitchen to yourself,” I tell her.

She blows a loose strand of dark hair out of her face and it falls right back down in front of her eyes. She’s still wearing her work uniform. The same one Tessa wears: black pants, white button-up shirt, and that bright green tie.

Nora’s shirt is tighter than Tessa’s, or so it seems.

“Thank you. I just really needed to not go home to my apartment tonight. I had such a shitty shift, and frankly, I can’t handle any of those bitches right now,” she huffs.

Her eyes meet mine and she covers her mouth. “No offense.”

“None taken,” I tell her, meaning it.

I don’t ever want to be in the middle of Dakota and Nora’s friendship, or lack of friendship, or roommateship, or whatever. I would rather be in Madam Undersecretary Professor Umbridge’s office staring at cat pictures while she tortures me.

Both Dakota and Nora are raging fires, and I’d rather not become a pile of ash by being too close to their flames.

“I’m going to make some food if you want to eat? I just grabbed a bunch of stuff and I’m going to see what I can whip up,” Nora offers.

This is the most we’ve spoken in a while and I’m sort of glad she’s speaking to me again. I figured we would both avoid each other and make things awkward, but this is a much better alternative.

“I’m not really hungry,” I say, even though I am. “I just ate,” I lie.

I’m pretty sure Nora got stuff to make her and Tessa dinner, not Tessa’s dorky roommate, and I don’t want to lurk around longer than I’m wanted. Nothing is worse than the feeling of questioning whether you’re wanted or not. It’s even worse than knowing you aren’t, because at least then you know for sure. There’s no desperate hope lingering that maybe your company is wanted.

“Okay. I’m going to leave the extras out for Tessa if you change your mind,” Nora says, her eyes on my chest. I should have put a shirt on because now all I can think about is the first time she touched me.

And the second.

And when she kissed me.

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